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Audio Play / The Christmas Thieves

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Does Everyone Deserve Redemption?

The Christmas Thieves is an audio drama created by Alex Shaw and is the seventh story in the New Century series, serving as a prequel to The Princess Thieves.

Set eight months before the events of The Princess Thieves, the story deals with Merlene attempting to redeem Captain Baltus in a manner to A Christmas Carol.

The Christmas Thieves provides examples of:

  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: Baltus accuses Merlene of being this when the wizard visits him disguised as the ghost of Jacobite Marlow.
  • Alternate Timeline: The Brightest Timeline shown in the last episode, where Baltus had a complete change of heart and became a better man.
  • Alternative Calendar: The Duart apparently have one, with years meaning marked with AA.
  • The Cameo:
    • The Black Shuck shows up at the end in the role of the boy Scrooge talks to from his window.
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    • A woman who is clearly Mortimer also briefly appears as well.
    • Gwendoline and Viola also receive cameos in the last episode.
  • Cast from Calories: Merlene does this, and must have a snack to replenish his reserves after each "haunting."
  • Christmas Songs: "Angels We Have Heard on High", "Joy to the World", and "Silent Night" all play during the course of the story.
  • Closet Shuffle: Merlene and the Nag hide in Baltus' larder in between the wizards illusionary hauntings.
  • Creepy Crows: When the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come brings Baltus to the graveyard, crows can be heard croaking in the background.
  • Cult: In the Brightest Timeline, Emileen jokes that Baltus' complete change in character must have come from joining a cult.
  • Cynical Mentor: Marlowe appears to have been this for Baltus, looking down on him and belittling both him and his father.
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  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Baltus needs a moment to adjust after Merlene illuminates his previously pitch black bedchamber as the Ghost of Christmas Past.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The story functions as one for Baltus, who was a purely villainous Dragon to a more complex Big Bad in The Princess Thieves.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Baltus is one in a similar way to how Scrooge was in the original novel.
    • The Nag, as usual.
  • Disintegrator Ray: Merlene is apparently capable of an effect similar to this, as he briefly considers turning Baltus into a smudge mark on the snow.
  • Disposing of a Body: Merlene admits to the Nag that if Baltus catches on to what they're doing, they might be forced to kill him and dispose of the body.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When confronted with the fact that many humans refuse to share their local water pumps with Akka, Baltus suggests that Akka should have separate, Akka-only water pumps.
  • Dragons Prefer Princesses: The trope of heroes saving damsels from drakes apparently comes up a lot in Duart opera.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Robin and Oberon show up in disguise early in the story.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Baltus does not fully understand the concept of charity.
  • Evil Uncle: Since this story is a prequel to another where he plays a major villain, Baltus is by default this to Freda.
  • Expy: A few original characters were created for the story to serve as stand ins for characters from A Christmas Carol.
    • Iain Cartwright, Baltus' bookkeeper, is one for Bob Cratchit.
    • Freda, Baltus' niece, is one for Fred.
    • Jacobite Marlowe, Baltus' deceased superior officer, is one for Jacob Marely.
    • Little Em, Iain Cartwright's crippled daughter, is one for Tiny Tim.
  • Fantastic Racism: Baltus' main objection to giving to charity is that those who would benefit aren't Duart.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who has already read or listen to The Princess Thieves will know that Merlene's attempt to redeem Baltus ultimately fails.
  • Gag Nose: The Ghost of Christmas Present's defining trait, said to resemble a cricket ball.
  • The Grinch: Baltus hates both Christmas and its Duart equivalent, the Winter Solstice.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Baltus reacts with disgust when he realizes Iain's children are half-Akka.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Cartwright children, who are half human and half Akka.
  • Heel–Face Turn: What Baltus goes through in the Brightest Timeline.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": The Black Shuck refers to himself as a "man of the night" and the Nag comments that he doesn't think that means what the Black Shuck thinks it means.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Attached to the end of the last episode.
  • Holy Halo: The Ghost of Christmas Past has a burning one.
  • Imagine Spot: Merlene briefly imagines vaporizing Baltus outside the Cartwright household in a moment of frustration.
  • Intangible Time Travel: Merlene convinces Baltus that he is experiencing this, though in actuality, it is an elaborate illusion.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Freda and Clarence have friends who are human, Duart, and Akka.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Baltus' niece, Freda, a Duart, is married to Clarence, a human.
    • Iain Cartwright, a human, and his wife Mara, an Akka.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Merlene disguises himself as the ghost of Jacobite Marlowe, complete with chains and the captain's armor the Duart wore in life.
  • Leitmotif:
    • "Silent Night" seems to serve as one for Little Em.
    • The Princess Thieves theme plays whenever Robin and Oberon enter the scene.
    • "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" plays during Gwendoline and Viola's cameo.
  • Lemony Narrator: Both following on from The Princess Thieves and as a homage to Dickens' writing style, Merlene adds his opinions and personality to the telling of the story.
  • Living Lie Detector: Merlene is able to see through Baltus' bravado when he confronts the Duart disguised as the ghost of Jacobite Marlow because he could hear Baltus' heart hammering in his chest.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage:
    • Baltus looks down on both Freda and Iain's Interspecies Romances.
    • It's revealed that an Interracial Marriage Permission Tax exists, which is steep enough that Iain has to work two jobs in order to keep his family afloat.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Baltus and his wife, Emileen, were married because it would look better if the Captain of the Guard was wed.
  • Marry for Love: Freda did this, which Baltus is disdainful of.
  • Master of Illusion: Merlene's entire gambit relies on his ability to craft a multitude of illusions to convince Baltus he is being haunted.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Nag and Merlene discuss whether Scrooge was actually visited by ghosts in A Christmas Carol or if he was dealing with disparate parts of his personality.
  • Mountain of Food: Merlene makes the illusion of one in Baltus' living room while disguised as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The two gentlemen who come into Baltus' office are clearly Robin and Oberon in disguise. Robin's blonde mustache is even described as peaking out from under the fake grey one he is wearing.
  • Posthumous Character: Marlow, filling a similar role as that of Jacob Marley.
  • Redemption Rejection: Played with, as while Baltus ultimately rejects the chance to be a better man that Merlene presents him with and goes on to be The Dragon of The Princess Thieves, he does raise Iain's wages to cover the loss from the Interracial Marriage Permission Tax.
  • Running Gag: The joke of characters mispronouncing Celador continues from The Princess Thieves.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Merlene attempts to do this to Baltus, using A Christmas Carol as inspiration.
  • The Scrooge: Baltus is described as being mean with money, but it is not his primary vice.
  • Seer: According to Merlene, being a wizard involves being this, granting him knowledge of future events and possible timelines.
  • Sexless Marriage: Baltus is married, but most people aren't aware because his estranged wife does not even live with him and they have no children.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sickly Green Glow: Merlene uses this as part of his illusion of Baltus' door knocker being replaced with Marlowe's face.
  • Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: Baltus finds the idea of love even more ridiculous than the idea of Christmas.
  • Stroke the Beard: Merlene does this in both male and female forms.
  • Suddenly Speaking: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who is normally The Voiceless.
  • Super Senses: Merlene apparently possesses them, as he mentions being able to hear Baltus' heart beating in his chest.
  • Tame His Anger: Ultimately what Merlene is trying to do to Baltus, as anger is the Duart's primary vice.
  • Temporal Mutability: Merlene is able to see multiple possible future timelines at once. His goal in the story is attempting to steer Baltus towards one of the timelines where he is a force for good in the world.
  • Temporal Paradox: Merlene mentions that terrible things happen to wizards who don't do the proper work to avoid these.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Of the rhyming variety with the Cartwright twins, Chloe and Holly.
  • Unreliable Narrator: A minor example, as Merlene admits that the various characters directly quoting A Christmas Carol was an embellishment and the real conversations were slightly different.
  • The Unreveal: It's specifically not said whether or not Baltus' small change in character led to Little Em surviving.
  • Victorian London: The setting of the story, though Queen Victoria no longer reigns.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The younger Baltus was apparently this towards both his own father and Marlowe.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: A Christmas Carol is one of Merlene's favorite stories, and he is inspired by it to try and change Baltus for the better in the same way Scrooge was.
  • You Mean "Xmas": The Duart apparently celebrate a holiday similar to Christmas known simply as Winter Solstice.


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